Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
May 6, 2019 - United Soccer League One (USL1)
International League: With the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox of the Triple-A International League moving to Worcester (MA) after the 2020 season, there has been speculation on which name the team will take in its new city. The organization has been accepting suggestions for new names and has filed trademark registrations for Worcesters, Ruby Legs and Wicked Worms. The city's professional baseball team in the 1880s was known as the Worcesters and also called the Ruby Legs. The team is currently referred to as the Worcester Red Sox or WooSox, but an official name has yet not been selected.
Can-Am League: The independent Can-Am League announced a partnership with the independent Empire Professional Baseball League (EPBL) that will involve an EPBL All-Star team called the Empire League Grays playing four games during the 2019 season against the 2018 Can-Am League champion Sussex County (NJ) Miners.
Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: The Jamestown (NY) Jammers of the summer-collegiate PGCBL announced late last year the team will sit out the 2019 season, but the team's ownership decided to donate the team to a Jamestown-based nonprofit group that recently signed a purchase agreement and is trying to bring the team back for the 2020 season.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA's Detroit Pistons announced plans to place its own G-League team in a new arena to be built at Wayne State University in Detroit. Since the 2014-15 season, the Pistons have had the Grand Rapids (MI) Drive as its G-League affiliate under a hybrid affiliation in which the Pistons run the Drive's basketball operations, but do not own the team. The Grand Rapids Drive joined the league with the purchase and relocation of the league's Springfield (MA) Armor team prior to the 2014-15 season. The Pistons affiliation agreement with the Drive runs through the 2020-21 season and the new 3,000-seat arena at Wayne State University is expected to be ready for the 2021-22 season. It is uncertain whether the Detroit team will be a G-League expansion team or the relocated Drive, but the ownership of the Drive is currently not interested in moving to Detroit.
National Basketball League of Canada: The ownership of NBL-Canada's Cape Breton Highlanders team, based in Sydney, Nova Scotia, stated the team might not return for the 2019-20 season if it does not receive more investor support. The Highlanders were a 2016-17 NBL-Canada expansion team.
The Basketball League: The ten-team TBL, which operated as North American Premier Basketball (NAPB) for its inaugural 2018 winter-spring season, recently completed its inaugural 2019 season and announced a group in Detroit has given a verbal commitment for a 2020 expansion team.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced new teams called the Sowashee Apex of Meridian (MS) and the Ephrata (PA) Thunder near Harrisburg have been added as 2019-20 expansion teams.
New England Arena League: The proposed new NEAL announced it will play its inaugural 2019 season with three teams and one alternating non-league team filling in as a fourth member.
National Gridiron League: The proposed indoor NGL, which delayed its 2019 spring start until 2020, announced its two six-team conferences will each be further aligned into two three-team North and South divisions. The NGL Eastern Conference North Division has the Pennsylvania Pioneers (Wilkes-Barre), Virginia Destroyers (Norfolk), and Virginia Iron Horses (Roanoke), while the Eastern Conference South Division includes the Georgia Wildcats (Albany), Indiana Blue Bombers (Fort Wayne) and Indiana Firebirds (Evansville). The NGL Western Conference North Division has the Arkansas Twisters (Little Rock), Kansas Kapitals (Topeka) and St. Louis Stampede, while the Western Conference South Division features the Baton Rouge Red Sticks, Mississippi Mudcats (Jackson) and Texas Bighorns (Beaumont).
Elite Indoor Football: The semi-pro EIF has posted the schedule for its 2019 season that is underway. Participating EIF teams include the Georigialina Lions (August, GA), Tampa Bay Tigers, Southern Steam (Statesboro, GA), High Point (NC) Wildcats and Carolina Aviators (Wake Forest, NC), while the EIF West participating teams include the Las Vegas Kings, Las Vegas Saints, Sacramento Spartans, Bakersfield Broncos, Desert Sentinels, Southwest Vipers and Yuma Renegades. Teams are only scheduled from one to five games, many of which are against non-league teams.
National Women's Hockey League: With the recent folding of the Canadian Women's Hockey League and leaving the NWHL as the only women's hockey league, more than 200 of the world's top female hockey players announced a boycott and they will not compete in North America next season. The players are not satisfied with the current state of women's hockey and want more of a say in establishing a better business model for a single women's league. The players are also hoping to get the National Hockey League more involved in running a women's league. The NWHL operated with five teams in the 2018-19 season and announced it plans to move forward with its fifth season in October 2019 offering salary increases and a 50-50 revenue split from league sponsorships and media rights.
USL League One: The United Soccer League's Division-III league known as USL League One has awarded a franchise to an Omaha group called Alliance Omaha Soccer Holdings. The USL League One recently started its inaugural 2019 season with ten teams and Omaha is the first expansion team announced for the 2020 season. The new Omaha team will play at Werner Park, which is home to the Omaha Storm Chasers baseball team in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
National Women's Soccer League: An investor group is proposing a new soccer stadium in Windsor (CT) as part of plans to establish a NWSL expansion team that would use New England in its name. The daily operations of this new team would be run by Mohegan Sun, which owns the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association.
National Premier Soccer League: The California United Strikers have dropped out of the NPSL's proposed new professional Founders Cup competition that was to start with 11 teams in August 2019. This leaves the Founders Cup Western Division with only four teams and the Eastern Division with six teams. Another Western Division team called the Cal FC was also rumored to be leaving the NPSL Founder Cup, which is supposed to be a precursor for an eventual NPSL-run Division-III pro league.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames, which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.
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